HP Debuts 6-Way Intel-Based Servers at 4-Way Price

In a bid to boost sales of its 4-way Intel-based servers, HP has unveiled new offerings—and challenged some conventions of the 4-way marketplace. HP's new NetServer LH 6000 and LT 6000r aren't your traditional 4-ways. They also offer 6-way processing—the capability of scaling up to six Pentium III Xeon processors.

With the introduction of the 6000s, HP "is offering customers up to 90 percent of the performance of an 8-way system at a 4-way price," says Mari Young, product marketing manager in HP's Network Server Division.

To introduce the LH 6000 and LT 6000r, HP is giving customers the chance to order the 6-way for the same $25,000 price as a 4-way. The promotion, which provides a $5,000 saving, lasts through June. To take advantage of it, customers must purchase a 6-way design and order through HP's Select Express Program. In this program, HP's Channel Partners funnel customer orders on to HP, which then configures, tests and ships the machines.

The NetServer LH 6000 and LT 6000r "offer an awesome value proposition" even without the promotion, says Young. An 6-way NetServer carries a price tag of $30,000. "That means customers pay about $5,000 more for a 6-way than for the typical 4-way and receive 32 percent higher performance—not a bad price point," Young points out.

Prices for the 6000s start much lower than this, of course--$7,299 for the NetServer LH 6000 and $8,199 for the LT 6000 r. The servers will ship in May.

HP's Edge in the Market

HP's new offerings seem to have what it takes to give the company an edge in the growing and lucrative market 4-way market, at least for now. HP is publicizing a number of different benchmarks run by ZD Labs that show the 6000s outperforming the Compaq ProLiant 6400 and Sun Enterprise 450. The LH 6000 equals or betters the performance of the Compaq ProLiant 6400 in a 4-way configuration and outperforms it, depending on the benchmark, 20 to 50 percent in a 6-way configuration. The comparison to the Sun Enterprise 450 is "mind-boggling," Young says. The LH 6000 outperforms the 450 from 30 to 80 percent in a 4-way configuration and from 60 percent to more than 200 percent in a 6-way configuration.

Along with their 6-processor capability, the NetServer LH 6000 and LT 6000r offer quite a bit of headroom. They are expandable to 8 GB of memory and offer up to 8 free PCI slots, up to 4 hot-pluggable redundant power supplies, and up to 216 GB of internal storage. They also provide two channels of embedded disk array (NetRAID) controllers at no extra cost.

The LH 6000 comes in two versions—a pedestal and a rackable version. The LT 6000r is a rack-optimized model targeted at service providers, who need to consolidate servers and externalize storage. Packaged in a 4u form factor, the LT 6000r gives ISPs and ASPs the ability to squeeze 60 Xeon processors in a 2-meter rack. Since current solutions in the market allow providers to fit 60 Pentium III processors in the same space, HP is offering "almost twice what you can get today," Young says.

HP Beefs Up Storage for the Midrange Intel-based Servers

With the launch of NetServer LT 6000r systems, HP has also boosted storage capacity for the midrange by unveiling the SureStore E Disk Array FC60. The FC60 boasts high-speed Fibre Channel connectivity to NetServers and the capacity to handle heavy traffic loads and deliver fast response times for applications in areas like business intelligence, transaction processing and e-services. The FC60 can be connected directly to servers or used in SANs. It can be reconfigured to support HP-UX.

In fact, the FC60 has been shipping for HP-UX since last August but is only now available for Windows NT. HP expects to make it available for Windows 2000 later this year. Prices begin at $35,630.

The FC60 has a modular design. Each module contains 10 disks as well as dual controllers, for redundancy and performance. That allows users to add 10 disks at a time. The FC60 scales up to 60 disks in a 2-meter rack, providing up to 4.5 TB of main storage for the LT 6000r.

"The FC60 is a great match for the new 4-way/6-way servers," says Woods. "Database kinds of applications, whether they're as simple as a dynamic Web server, or maybe a data mart, or perhaps even OLTP, are very much within the reach of Intel servers, particularly when the servers are coupled with high-performance, scalable storage like this."

"Furthermore," Woods argues, "the price tag for this class of storage is as little as one-tenth of what you pay for the XP256 [HP's high-end disk array]." To put some real numbers behind Woods' comments, the FC60 provides roughly 300 GB of storage for between $50,000 and $75,000. Contrast that with the XP256, where prices start at $256,000.